Saturday, October 31, 2015

BRAWA 0458: Upgrade with ESU Lokpilot 4.0 micro and ESU Powerpak

I converted this BRAWA Koef II to digital operation using a regular Lokpilot 3.0, which just barely fit into the cab. Switching cars with this little locomotive is a lot of fun, so I sprung for a Lokpilot 4.0 micro DCC and the ESU Powerpak.

Here's a view of the locomotive with the cab roof off. It's easy to see how much smaller the new decoder is...

The first step was to connect the Powerpak to the respective soldering pads on the decoder. The pads are just as small as one would expect from such a tiny decoder.

Technically, the fine tip of my soldering iron is still too big for this job but I managed to solder the cables in place with the edge of the tip. Using a magnifying glass, reading glasses, steady hands, and going slow helped with this step.

The motor and pickup wiring inside the locomotive is hooked to a 4-pin connector. I unsoldered the existing decoder, soldered connections for the new decoder (I should have ordered the version with wires attached... ), and after some time --- interrupted by tonight's Halloween activities --- I'm testing the decoder on the layout.

Out of the box, with no tuning in the decoder settings whatsoever, the Powerpak already improves performance on the not so commonly used track in the industrial area. In speed step 2 the loco smoothly rolls over turnouts where it used to stop when going that slow. The only indication that the Powerpak is doing its job is a slightly jerky motion on dirty track. I should be able to tune that in the decoder settings.

Time to dress the cables a bit more, program the decoder, get a "Rangierfuehrer" in the cab of the Koef, and put the cab roof back on.

[Previous installments of the Koef II conversion: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 ]

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